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BP Settles in Four Texas Refinery Blast Cases

Energy company BP said it had reached a settlement in four civil cases that were in the third week of a trial related to a deadly 2005 explosion at its Texas City, Texas, refinery.

"The four cases that were being tried have settled," said Neil Chapman, a spokesman for BP .

The settlements were announced in court, Chapman said, declining to provide details. On Sept. 5, the trial began in Galveston County, south of Houston. The four cases were filed by survivors of the explosion who sued the London-based company for emotional distress, loss of hearing and other illnesses.

A spokeswoman for Brent Coon, a lawyer representing the four plaintiffs, had no immediate comment.

Fifteen workers were killed and more than 100 were injured by the March 23, 2005 explosion on an octane-enhancing unit at the refinery.

BP's lawyers have said the company has settled more than 1,300 claims from many survivors who had suffered severe burns or lost limbs in the blast as well as with the relatives of those who had been killed.

U.S. safety investigators found the company's management cut the refinery's budget and failed to heed warning signs of a possible catastrophic accident at the refinery. BP has admitted responsibility for the failures leading to the blast and has set aside over $2 billion to settle claims against the company.

The Texas City refinery, the company's largest, has a crude oil processing capacity of 460,000 barrels per day. It has been running at half its capacity since Hurricane Rita hit the Texas coast in September 2005.

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